Thursday, November 5, 2015

Fake Suicides

A coworker and I recently were discussing the threat of suicide as a manipulative tactic. A person in her circle recently went on a three day bender in the mountains after leaving a suicide note. After his vehicle became disabled, he started calling people for a ride.


This post is not making light of suicide. It is cruel and hateful toward the survivors and the meanest act I can think of under most circumstances. Those faced with incurable and debilitating health issues, to me, get a free pass. It is the fakers that get my scorn.

Basic Training, Ft Leonard Wood, MO, circa 1963 wasn’t a pleasant experience. My squad had the top floor of a dilapidated WWII “temporary” barracks with exposed studs and rafters. Two private rooms at the head of the stairs were occupied by Sergeants. One was from Cuba, and his command of English was marginal.

One of the trainees was desperate to get out of the Army. In that era of the draft, the institution wasn’t keen on letting anyone go. Wearing panties might have worked. His solution was to fake a suicide. He stacked footlockers, tied his tent rope to the rafter, fashioned a noose, and slipped it over his head. My buddy, Tom, had the bottom bunk and this joker the top bunk. Tom loathed the little pansy. Once the noose was in place, Tom kicked the footlockers from under the pansy who now was desperately trying to climb a small wax covered cotton rope. Enter the Cuban Sergeant. As he topped the stairs, he saw an entire two squads going about their business of shining shoes and writing letters as the pansy tried to climb the rope. Shouting orders in Spanish, which no one obeyed, he finally got the fool down.
Fast forward a few days. It is a Saturday night and the Sergeant was, as all good Sergeants of the day, getting buzzed at the NCO Club. The pansy cut one of his wrists (disregarding the, “It’s down the tracks, not across the tracks) and carefully hung his arm outside his bunk. Tom, sees this fool dribbling blood on Tom’s dust cover, jerks him from his bunk, and starts beating him. Poor Sergeant. Reaching the head of the stairs, he sees one soldier bleeding while getting his ass kicked. Of course, his arm was flailing, splattering blood all over. More excited orders, in Spanish, which we all ignored.

The pansy got hauled off never to be seen in our unit again. Tom was ordered to clean up the mess but we all pitched in. As a side note, after leaving the Army, Tom used the GI Bill to finish his education as a psychiatrist. Probably needed the “professional courtesy” as he wouldn’t have afforded regular care. Yeah, bat shit crazy. Since we were tight buddies, what did that make me?

With no disrespect intended to the sufferers of PTSD, saw a lot of fucked up people in the Army. The majority were fucked up before they joined. Some, the Army helped. Other didn’t change. One that comes to mind hung by his finger tips off the stern of the troopship taking us to Germany. Thought he was being funny. We all went through Combat Engineer training together and about nine of us ended up in the same company in Germany. 

Is there any way to spot the manipulative fakers from the real risks? I don’t know how.

The officers and senior NCOs that dealt with these jokers had my profound respect and sympathy. Once I became a squad leader, my solution was kicking their asses until they changed. Of course, some of them could kick back real well. My tactic, while officially frowned on, was often ignored by the powers that were. Fuck up my plans for the evening? No, maggot, fuck you.  Per my youngest son, such behavior` isn’t tolerated in today’s Army.

Their loss. I believe today’s soldier is much better than in my day (hey, it is a much smaller and select service today) but some of the toughness has been lost.

Sorry to ramble on. Where this post started, and where it ended up, surprises me. Hope you weren’t bored. Offended? Oh, well.


13 comments:

  1. First, thanks for stickin' with me at "Pitchpull".
    I DO appreciate it.
    VN Vets got a bad rep for bein' "ticking time bombs". I said at the time, "How many of these bad apples were rotten before the ARMY picked 'em?"
    True then.
    True today.
    The mentally ill just make it hard for the rest of us.

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  2. Speaking of fake suicide attempts, in some cases it's tempting to just let them go ahead.

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  3. Those are truly sad... And people trying to get out of taking responsibility...

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    1. What is this responsibility you talk about? Quaint notion, that.
      (And I agree)

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  4. Reminds me of a dude on my ship. Three months left on a 4 year cruse and, because we were about to leave for the WestPac, decided he was gay. He wanted out early, instead he got six months in the brig and extensive psych treatment.

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  5. Great post, WSF. You talk about some hard issues. I agree with your perspective.

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    1. I'm sure you dealt with them on a near daily basis when you were a LEO.

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  6. Reminds me of a story from my dad's days in psychiatric medicine. Doc had a patient that he was very familiar with after years of work. Guy called him at 3 a.m and made a suicide threat. Doc (feeling he knew him well) said "go ahead., and hung up on him. Then spent all night worrying he'd made the wrong call :). (He hadnt, the man called him in the afternoon to thank him for calling him on his crap)
    Not a recommended tactic if you aren't trained and familiar!

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    1. Always a crap shoot. My youngest, the ex Medic, has some Blue Falcon stories.

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